Museum ready for celebrationREGENT — The Hettinger County Historical Society Museum, located on Main Street, is being spruced up for the Regent Centennial Celebration.
By: Linda Sailer, The Dickinson Press
REGENT — The Hettinger County Historical Society Museum, located on Main Street, is being spruced up for the Regent Centennial Celebration.
Curator Don Wagendorf has been painting, while museum volunteers have spread out with their dust mops. Their job is gigantic — the museum links five buildings together, not counting the Rainy Butte country school inside a quonset and Zion Lutheran Church in the back.
Wagendorf, 72, became curator three years ago. He lived in the country until 1960 when he moved into town.
“There’s a lot of us who stayed, but most are out in the cemetery,” he noted.
He worked for Killdeer Mountain Manufacturing Co. in recent years, until taking on the job as curator. He delights in giving tours to visitors, cracking joke after joke.
“We’ve had people in from every state; and two years ago, from four countries,” he said.
They may take a drive down the Enchanted Highway and stop at the museum before leaving town.
“They can’t believe it because when they walk through the first door, they think that’s the museum,” he said. “But there’s more. They walk into the biggest building, then go into the school. People don’t know the country school is actually inside the building. They’re awed,”
He likes to showcase a buffalo robe decorated with porcupine quills by Native American women, the Karo syrup/lard pails used as school lunch buckets, the vintage washing machines and a collection of “Dick and Jane” primers.
The quonset features a miniature Main Street when Regent had a jail, post office, general merchandise store, saloon, barber shop, meat market, printing press and harness shop.
One of the more famous buildings was owned by “Doc” Simon Hill, M.D. The building was left untouched, as evidenced by historic photos.
Wagendorf remembers kicking and screaming up the 17 steps to the doctor’s office for immunization shots, and holding his bum while sucking on a sucker on the way down.
“Dr. Hill delivered over 3,000 babies,” said Wagendorf. “Most of his pay was chickens.”
With a medical degree, Wagendorf said Hill was Regent’s dentist, eye doctor, surgeon and pharmacist
He remembers Kristy’s merchandise store, where one could buy a fancy hat, pound of sausage or sewing supplies.
Wagendorf stressed the museum is not just about Regent — it also features items from the Mott and New England areas.
Wagendorf believes the Regent centennial will be an exciting time. Of his nine children, eight are coming home.
He’s hoping people will take time to visit the museum — to reflect Regent’s past.
“There’s a lot of history in there,” he said.
Tours during the centennial begin at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.